EEG Biofeedback on a Female Stroke Patient with Depression: A Case Study


  • John A. Putman



Background. This single case concerns the treatment of a 71-year-old female stroke patient. The patient’s MRI revealed that the location of the stroke was in the right side basal ganglia with damage extending into the anterior limb of the internal capsule. She presented with a virtual paralysis of the left side of her body (hemiplegia with immobilized left arm, contracted fist, minimal motor control over left leg, absence of muscle tonus in left side of face and slurred, monotonic speech). Method. The client was provided with EEG biofeedback training on a one to two half-hour sessions per week schedule. Bipolar montages were used along with single site protocols. This was based largely on the idea of reciprocal communication loops between widely separated cortical generators. It was thought that encouraging communication between cortical sites would have a beneficial impact on impairments related to both functional and structural damage. EEG training protocols included SMR (12-15 Hz) enhancement at C4, C4-Pz and T3-T4 with theta suppression; beta (15-18 Hz) enhancement with theta suppression at C3, C3-Fpz and at C3-Fp1. Results. Patient showed significant improvement in gross motor control and range of movement of left arm and leg. The most dramatic improvement was observed in speech (articulation, strength and tone). While substantial improvements were observed in motor ability, restoration of mood stability proved somewhat more elusive. Since she was receiving additional treatment (physical therapy and medication management), it is impossible to attribute the improvement in functioning solely to the EEG training. However, the consensus among the attending medical personnel was that the improvements noted above took place with unusual expeditiousness. Discussion. When performing EEG biofeedback it may be most practical to adopt an “exercise model” approach in which the regulatory mechanisms in the brain are challenged through the sequential use of multiple protocol configurations. In this case several different training protocols proved useful in her ongoing recovery. While improvements in functioning were a result of a concerted effort involving multiple therapeutic interventions, it is likely that neurofeedback played a vital synergistic role.